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The topic of personal privacy on the internet seems to be a constant news topic these days. Violations by companies like Facebook, Microsoft, and Google make sensational headlines and result in lengthy discussions. In my experience, both on Digital Home Canada and elsewhere on the web, I encounter lots of people who refuse to use a service or company because they don't trust them with their information.

So my question is, how much does this concern you? Do you use facebook, Gmail, Internet Explorer, or any other services or products who have faced allegations of privacy violations? Do you bank or shop online? Do you allow your computer or browser to save your passwords? Which companies/products/services do you trust and which do you not? And, most importantly, why?
 

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Personally, web privacy is not a huge concern for me. I use Gmail and facebook, along with almost every other service available. I have active LinkedIn, Twitter, and About.me accounts. I bank online and spend a lot of money at Amazon and eBay. My phone uploads my location to Google Latitude, and I regularly use Google Talk and Calendar. I fill in most personal information fields on most websites. If anyone wants to know about me, it's not very difficult.

That said, I don't confuse privacy with security. All my passwords are different and secure and saved only in my head. I use Chrome as my primary browser, and Ubuntu most of the time on my personal PC. I carefully control who has access to what information, notably my address and location. As soon as Google enables two-step verification for personal accounts I will start using it. I trust most major companies (e.g. Google, Amazon) because I don't believe they would risk selling my identity. That said, I always reserve the right to change my mind on that.
 

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I'm pretty much the same, except I don't use Facebook.

The one that I always find funny with the "won't buy online" crowd is that they are perfectly happy giving their credit card to waitstaff in restaurant who disappear into the back room but won't use it online.

Since VISA (or whoever) is on the hook for any false charges anyway there is really zero risk in online buying.

My only paranoid thing is that I check my credit score/report every couple of years just to make sure nothing is funky there.
 

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I've had my card compromised twice, both times through gas pumps, but restaurants are definitely a hotspot for that.

The anti-online bankers/shoppers, in my experience, don't really understand the internet and think as soon as you type it in someone can see it. They seem convinced that it's almost guaranteed that all your money will be stolen.

My one piece of neurotic paranoia is that I hate using someone else's computer and I hate when someone else uses mine.
 

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I'm quite concerned with online privacy and guard it as best I can. Despite that, problems will occur...my credit card is suspended as I type this, because somebody lifted my credit card number and charged $5k at the Apple online store. I travel regularly to more than a dozen different countries each year, so I seem to get hit more often than others.

More frightening than that, though, is Facebook and their willingness to compile complete profiles of people and sell it to absolutely anyone without meaningful screening. They also speak out of both sides of their mouths when they pretend to offer privacy controls. They are data whores the likes of which the world has never seen, and I treat them with the utmost caution.
 

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People must control their own exposure to such things.

One area that many seem unaware of is that, if your email server is located in the USA (ie. Hotmail, Gmail, etc.), you have no right of privacy whatsoever under their so-called "Patriot Act".

If your email is stored on a Canadian server, it can only be accessed with an actual court order (warrant). No fishing trips allowed!
 

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That may be true, but to be honest that doesn't really bother me. The US government is not going to bother stealing my bank information, or my Amazon account info. I have no plans to commit any terrorism, and if I did I wouldn't use Gmail to communicate about it. I'm not a radical activist or anything like that, though if I were, even a legal one, I'd be hesitant about using Gmail/Hotmail/Yahoo Mail.
 

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I am not concerned about things like online shopping or banking. If the TD or Royal Bank violate my privacy, I have plenty of recourse including a formal complaint to the federal privacy commissioner. I only use Paypal or Google Checkout unless I'm shopping at a large commercial enterprise (eg. Amazon), so again, if they violate my privacy ... I've got recourse.

As for fraud using a credit card, I think I've got enough protection.

However, I don't use Facebook except as a tool to investigate the conduct of our employees where necessary. Same with Twitter. Because part my professional career has, at least for the last 15 years, involved making employment decisions based on culpable conduct ... I am completely private online (except as JohnnyCanuck). Nowhere can you see me describe my employer or link me to my real identity through my JohnnyCanuck persona.

Having done many forensic investigations over the years, the most common misconception is that you can hide your online activities through using gmail, hotmail, etc. That's not true. There's no such thing as privacy on the internet.
 

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^^^^
+1 to that. The financial risks online pale in comparison to the reputation risks. At a certain level, that can be ruinous.
 

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+1 to TorontoColin on use of all services and online purchases. Both my sons have had their bank cards compromised, but my wife and I still haven't. We are very careful and aware of our environment when entering our PIN and I look for things like seals, and connections on the pad. I also check for the location of the terminal. Any time my card disappears from sight, I make it clear to the sales person that they are breaking the rules as set out by the banks. That usually scares them to blurt out all kinds of stuff about how the boss insist it be placed there, blah blah blah.

In fact I'm less worried about my online purchases, as I only deal with large, established companies online.

Like TorontoColin, I too have an extensive array of complex passwords that are stored in my "biological RAM" ;) It's the easiest way to protect yourself.
 
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